Well-wishers helping resettle Nakuru IDPs

Report
from Kenya Daily Nation
Published on 26 Jan 2014 View Original

In Summary

  • Chaos erupted in an unprecedented way soon after the results for the presidential election were announced.

  • The government went ahead and bought acres of land, and would then ask the IDPs to move in.

  • However, residents of these areas would not be welcoming at all, with fights ensuing as the residents tried to keep these hopeful IDPs away.

  • The IDPs are now able to enjoy decent housing, complete with a kitchen, a water storage tank and a toilet on their tiny pieces of land.

By MERCY GAKII

When the government started an ambitious plan to resettle Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs), following the 2007 post-election violence, it was fraught with very many challenges.

These challenges left rather hurtful feelings on many of these internal refugees.

The government went ahead and bought acres of land, and would then ask the IDPs to move in.

However, residents of these areas would not be welcoming at all, with fights ensuing as the residents tried to keep these hopeful IDPs away.

John Njuguna lived and did business in Kericho for over 30 years.

It is here that he got married, had children, saw his own grown-up children get married, and even got their own children.

But things took a drastic turn after the 2007 general elections.

Chaos erupted in an unprecedented way soon after the results for the presidential election were announced.

“I had already voted, but the results were taking a while to be announced.

I was advised by friends to stay at home and not open my shop.

REFUGE AT POLICE STATION

But things got so bad that we had to move from home and take refuge in the nearby police station.

All my property was burnt down, and despite investing a lot of money and time to grow a business, I was only able to escape with my family,” says Njuguna.

Njuguna’s family was then moved from Kericho to the Nakuru ASK showground. They would later be resettled at the Pipeline camp where they live up to today.

“We were given tents, and that is what we have been using for all these years,” he says as he shows some worn out tents that still dot the Pipeline plain.

But things have changed for the better for Njuguna and other IDPs, thanks to a project by a local church.

He still lives with his wife and five grandchildren, but this time, he has a two bedroom house to show for a house.

He is one of the beneficiaries of a project by Pastor Paul Muema of Gospel Community Church, Nakuru.

DECENT HOUSING

According to the IDPs, they are now able to enjoy decent housing, complete with a kitchen, a water storage tank and a toilet on their tiny pieces of land.

The land on which the house stands is 21 by 27 feet in size.

The many years living in tents is a life Njuguna wants to forget.

Sleeping in a tent together with little children left the adults with no privacy to themselves.

They also faced the challenge of lack of sufficient food besides health challenges such as pneumonia during the rainy seasons.

There have been various efforts to help these people, but most of these attempts were carried out by self-seeking donors who would keep some of the donations to themselves.

According to Muema, constructing houses for these displaced persons was as a result of a continuing relationship that started when he first visited them at the ASK showground temporary camp.

He would bring them personal effects and even pray with them.

When they moved to Pipeline, he would still find time to visit them.

“He brought us duvets, school books and other items that our children badly needed when school term was about to start,” remembers George Ndichu, who is also living with his wife and four grandchildren.

Ndichu lived in Londiani all his life, until the aftermath of the 2007 elections when the government relocated his family to Nakuru.

FRIENDS FROM USA

The pastor says that the houses, which cost Sh140,000 per unit, have been financed by his friends in the USA.

“These friends have followed the Kenyan stories with interest, and when they heard about the IDP problems, they decided to do something about it,” he remembers.

They then came together and started to contribute to the idea of building houses for these people.

The project will see some 20 housing units go up in the next few months.

Five houses have already been built, and owners are happily residing in them.

The IDPs are the ones who formed their own committee.

This committee selects the person who will have their house built first.

Their selection considers the most vulnerable persons such as the aged and the disabled.

The group then gets down to work, with each of the men being assigned a particular task such as cutting timber, or cooking for the workers.

Within two days, a house is complete.

The houses are made of iron sheet and timber.

A house consists of two bedrooms, a sitting room and a kitchen.

There is also a 500 litre water tank installed outside the kitchen and during the rainy season, they can harvest and store water.

The toilet, a pit latrine, also stands near the proposed gate of the home, and all that on a 21 by 27 foot piece of land.

“All we need is dignity, and a sense of belonging to a home, and these new houses are giving us just that,” says a lady popularly known as Tata by her friends.